Lecture Review_Brittney Johnson

Artist Review 1

Brittney Johnson

ARTH 3539

Artist Lecture #1

Richard Tuttle


            During the introduction of Richard Tuttle by Mark Addison, I learned that Richard Tuttle’s focus is on humble materials and creating art composed of something simpler.  In the pictures displayed, focused on his “What’s the Wind” show, I saw this was true.  Richard Tuttle is an artist focused on creating meaning from modest and seemingly random materials.  Tuttle’s use of simple supplies may encourage his ideal of accessible art but it is truly that his art is “not about materiality.”  For Tuttle, all art is a “spiritual revelation.”

The sculptures in the “What’s the Wind?” show are designed for multiple vantage points.  They are designed for circumambulation, which Tuttle does not believe has been successfully accomplished by abstract art.  Unable to achieve pleasing views from a full 360 degrees, Tuttle focuses on eight points of pleasing totality.  Circumambulating the art will create different experiences for people, based on their varying vantage points.

Art is also about freedom.  The job of the artists is to give people something to see; art which they can see and interpret freely.  Seeing, for Tuttle, is quite different than “looking at”; seeing is understanding and interacting with the art, rather than just observing it.  In relation to the concept of freedom, Tuttle believes art to be political.  This can be politically explicit or implicit, but is constantly individual.  I believe the concept of art introducing freedom and internal politics is important for the way that Tuttle views his own work.

Tuttle places his 3-dimensional art within frames.  This device is intended to heighten the reality of his art.  He places his art on the actual ground (usually the floor of the gallery) but places space in between the floor and his psychological ground, which is indicated by a black board.  His new psychological ground is intended to be ambiguous.  While the floor is concrete, his psychological floor is indefinite, and he brings in the walls as representing human consciousness in his art.

Tuttle frequently returns to the idea that materials are not important but what truly matters is the subject matter.  In the case of “What’s the Wind?”, his subject matter is the nature of the physical world.  Moreover, his concern is how the physical world penetrates space.  His idea in these sculptures is really about what different spaces mean for himself and the viewer.  I believe that this idea of space is important when one considers that Tuttle views himself as a western artist and as we have seen in class, there are many artists interested in the idea of Western, open space.  He states repeatedly and emphatically that the material elements are not important to his art; it is the spaces through the art that are important.  While his “What’s the Wind” sculptures are intended to explore vertical space, his new series is an exploration of horizontal space.  Emphatically, his focus in art is not concerned with the materials utilized, but those spaces and interpenetrations within his art.


This paper is completely based on the Logan Lecture of artist Richard Tuttle at Denver Art Museum on March 21, 2012.  No outside sources were used.

Personal Note

I didn’t want to put this into the paper, but this talk was awful.  Richard Tuttle was rambling and had no idea what he wanted to convey to the audience. I have heard other artists lecture, so it’s not that I don’t care for how artists speak, it’s just that this talk was incredibly difficult to follow, which I assume shows up in my recap, and very unclear and disorganized.  I’m sorry if that’s reflected to a large extent in this essay.

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